Notre Dame Head Football Coach Brian Kelly met with the media earlier this afternoon and fielded several questions on the topics that we have all been talking about since the final gun sounded against South Florida. Overall Coach Kelly was as businesslike and direct as always. I appreciate that aspect of his personality tremendously. For those that are interested you can find a full transcript of the presser courtesy of ASAP Sports HERE.
Tommy Rees will start at quarterback against Michigan.
"I think we go in -- look, nobody wants to go in and change their quarterbacks each and every week. That's just not the way you play this game. So our hopes are Tommy is productive and can play at a high level week in and week out."
He went on to say more when asked about Tommy now having to look over his shoulder.
"Because he knows what I've told him: You got to be productive. If you're not, you should be looking over your shoulder. If you're a productive quarterback doing the things we ask you to do, you should just go out there and play the game the way you know how to play it.
A few more comments in response to a question about Tommy processing plays more quickly and effortlessly than Dayne.
"Yeah, I don't want to say incorrect, Pete, because you know the game. I'm not here to cover Dayne's butt, okay? That's not by job. But I'm gonna tell you what. He did some really good things, and the offense comes pretty easy to him. The difference between being good and great sometimes is being decisive. You know, not whether you can process and understand, but decisiveness.
It is impossible to tell how much of this is Kelly trying to salvage Crist's confidence so that he remains a viable backup and how much of it is him revealing that the staff really isn't 100% sold one way or the other. Either way this scenario could prove to be very detrimental if it is not handled appropriately going forward. I expect this topic will continue to be discussed heavily on the interwebs throughout the season.
Coach Kelly also commented specifically on some of the starters with high expectations that had rough outings against South Florida.
On Theo Riddick.
"You know, Theo is a young man that I think we will continuing to go to Theo. The thing that he has to work on, obviously his body language. You know, he can't get down on himself. We're going to keep coming to him. He's going to our guy. He's got to fight through a very difficult set of circumstances that were presented him."
On his confidence in backup running back Jonas Gray
"My confidence? He's got to go back out there. He's got to play for us. He's physically able to do it. Mentally he's got to be able to do it. We're not sitting him down. He's got to play for us against Michigan, and he's got to play for us all year."
On Punter Ben Turk
"So Ben's got to go and do it; simple as that. He's the best, most talented guy we have. He's just got to find himself out there and be more consistent.
And based upon what I've seen, he can do. He it can hit it down the fairway. We just got to get him to do it on Saturday."
The consistent theme here is that these guys are it and they are simply going to have to step up and play better.
"You know, I think Carlo and Foxy played well, both of them. That splitting of reps was almost right down the middle. They gave us really good play, both of 'em. A lot positive things. Some things we have to clean up on obviously."
This surprised me a little bit. I came away from the game a little worried about the Will position. I suspect that some of this is the teaching and building phase that I will expound upon in a minute.
On whether or not he feels like his "behavior" on the sideline is warranted
Did I hit somebody? Did I strike somebody? Is that what you're referring to? I'm asking specifically what you're referring to.
Following clarification that the question was about "yelling at kids on the sideline."
"Yeah, I think I was extremely frustrated with the game. You know, what I have to recognize is that I'm on TV all the time. You know, do a better job of understanding when that camera is on me. Seems like it's on more than I'm used to. So I'll have to do a better job of controlling my emotions."
I thought this was a fair response to something that got a lot more attention in the last few days than I personally felt was warranted. I started to write up a novel on this topic then thought better of it. The bottom line is that there are two separate issues being discussed here. One is this type of coaching acceptable? Two is this type of coaching acceptable at Notre Dame? Those are obviously two separate issues.
On the former I think it is absolutely acceptable so long as the teaching aspect comes in to play at some point. It might be the next day, or the next week but I am certain that every individual mistake that Coach Kelly ripped into a player on the sidelines about was addressed again later as a teaching point. This also falls in line with what you might call a break down and build up philosophy. It builds mental toughness. In addition there probably aren't too many 18-22 year old males that couldn't use a shot of this every now and then. I certainly benefited from it. I am also certain that a majority of football coaches and the United States Marine Corps agree with me.
On the latter point we fall into a whole different discussion entirely. As Alumni, Subway Alumni and fans of Notre Dame Football we hold dear everything that Notre Dame as an institution stands for. As we know all too well the lot of us will never agree 100% on any individual issue. As the current steward of the Notre Dame Football Program Coach Kelly has to make a decision about where to prioritize his sideline demeanor. I feel like his comments today met the mark, and I hope that we can all move on to more important things like beating Michigan. Go Irish!